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Perspectives in health and social care

Health and social care is an important and complex topic that is seldom out of the news. Studying this module will help you get to grips with three important areas which affect us all in our adult lives—health and wellbeing, mental health and ageing and later life. You’ll be introduced to some of the key concepts, theories and debates and explore a rich mixture of real-life case studies, audio-visual material and academic texts, all developed by experts drawing on cutting-edge research. An equally important focus of K118 is on developing your study and employment-related skills, allowing you to enhance your understanding of professional and service user-focused practice in health and social care.

What you will study

Block 1: Health and wellbeing examines what is meant by wellbeing, how that affects individuals’ health, and what people can do at an individual level to improve their health and wellbeing. You’ll be introduced to the wide (and perhaps surprising) range of activities that support people’s wellbeing and also examine how differently people can respond to adversity. But you’ll also look at the bigger picture of how someone’s wellbeing is affected by where they live, the organisations in which they live or work and the inequalities in wider society. You’ll develop your understanding of these important issues through exploring case studies from a diverse range of contexts such as community arts projects, living with M.E. and bereavement.

Block 2: Mental health introduces the topics of mental health and illness starting with a broad coverage of the conditions that are most commonly diagnosed as mental health problems. You’ll find out about the ways in which responses to mental illness have varied over the years and how experts still differ as to the best ways to treat mental distress. You’ll focus particularly on two conditions, depression and bi-polar disorder, and hear directly from people living with these conditions about how they affect their daily lives. You’ll also be introduced to some of the debates about how best to treat or respond to people experiencing them.  

Block 3: Ageing and later life will introduce you to critical issues in ageing and later life in the context of an ageing population. We are often told that there will be difficulties in the future because of our ageing population but in this block you will see that many older people are healthy and active and continue to make very significant contributions to society. When people do become frail and in need of support it can be challenging to ensure that their needs are met in ways that respect their individuality and personhood. You will be introduced to some key theories that help to explain modern ageing, including the notion of the Third and Fourth Ages, the impact of ageism and the diversity of older people.

This module is suitable for a general audience but is likely to be of particular interest to you if you have already studied An introduction to health and social care (K101). It focuses on the lives of adults of all ages. If you are already working in the fields of health, mental health or ageing, or hoping for a career in these areas, you are likely to find the materials particularly relevant. This module is also suitable for people with a more general interest in health and social care.

Entry requirements

We recommend that you study Introducing health and social care (K102) before you study this module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

In your first module mailing you will receive guidance of how to get started online. This will provide you with information on using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide. For example, it explains how to access and use your website and online discussion forums. If you have time before the module starts, you can work through this and explore all the online services available to you.

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course specific study material
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details
  • access to online tutorials and study forums
  • access to teaching and library resources

You’ll also be provided with printed module books, each covering one block of study, and a printed Readings book.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll have a tutor who will help you with the study material. They’ll also mark and comment on your written work, and you can ask them for advice and guidance. Part of your tuition is delivered online so some of the contact with your tutor will be through email and online discussion forums, although phone communication may also be used. If you’re new to the OU, your tutor can provide additional support with your study skills.

We aim to provide an online Introductory Day School, and recordings will typically be made available to students. While you’re not obliged to participate in this event, you are strongly encouraged to take part.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K118 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Perspectives in health and social care starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that starts in October 2022, when we expect it to start for the last time.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
3 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school